ANGER has erupted over the felling of several centuries-old oak trees in the centre of Wokingham.

Contractors making way for the controversial Elms Field redevelopment removed a number of mature trees on the site on Sunday morning, leading to one councillor describing the scene on social media as a ‘massacre’.

The decision to remove the trees, which were believed to be around 200-years-old, along the Wellington Road last weekend was made to ensure the works took place before the beginning of the birds nesting season.

Visiting the site on Sunday afternoon, Liberal Democrat town councillor, Imogen Shepherd-DuBey said she felt the removal of the trees was destroying Wokingham’s heritage.

Cllr Shepherd-DuBey said: “These trees were in a public park and had been part of our town for over two centuries. There is no way that they could be replaced in my life time, our children’s lifetime or our grandchildren’s lifetime.

“So, for what purpose have we lost these healthy mature trees? It seems they are to be replaced with a supermarket and a reasonably priced hotel.

“I want to see our town develop and grow, but at what cost will this be to our community? I cannot see why our developers couldn’t have been a little more creative in their design to help us preserve this part of our heritage. These trees must have been with us for generations. I, for one, do not believe that destroying our heritage is the price we should be paying for progress.”

Cllr Stuart Munro, Wokingham Borough Council’s executive member for business and economic development and regeneration, said: “Whilst we recognise this work is sensitive and will upset some people, the Elms Field project is important for Wokingham. We need to deliver the facilities our town needs to thrive over the coming years and will keep people coming back to Wokingham.

“I also want to reassure people that a large open space and play area remains at the heart of the Elms Field scheme. We’ve put a huge amount of time into coming up with great designs that will create a fantastic town centre park with lots of grassed areas, attractive planting and plenty of seating for people to relax in the space. There’s also a bigger and better destination play area for families and lots of features to support local fayres and events with reinforced paths, water and power integrated onto the site”